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Controversial Clarkson Controversial Clarkson
by Asa Butcher
Issue 14
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Book
The World According to Clarkson
Jeremy Clarkson
Penguin, 2004
For those unacquainted with the man called Jeremy Clarkson, he is the presenter of the BBC car programme Top Gear and known for his controversial comments on all topics. He infamously microwaved a map of Wales on TV because Scotland wouldn't fit, said that "most Americans barely have the brains to walk on their back legs" and recently helped launch a rocket-powered Mini Cooper from a ski jump in Lillehammer.

His outspoken reputation intrigued me to read The World According to Clarkson, a compilation of his Sunday Times columns dating from January 2001 to December 2003. Upon the completion of the book, I was not disappointed, yet I felt that it could have been so much more. There are approximately 80 columns and their length runs to under 1000-words each, which is the problem: they aren't long enough.

The book made me smile, made me laugh and made me think, which made me want to read about his thoughts and opinions even more. Despite many of the columns being about events from a few years ago and are a little out-of-date, they are still modern events that I recall and many topics that are still current. His writing style is one that I thoroughly enjoy because it feels as though he is talking directly to you, like two friends sharing a drink.

His columns take in a variety of different subjects ranging from Paris, the city of daylight robbery, to his daughter asking him the question all parents dread: What are the English good at? He attacks cricket, Austria and swimming pools, explains why the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is British and reveals the reason why people don't riot often is the wet weather: "The only reason why the Arabs and Jews have managed to keep their nasty little war going for fifty years is because it never bloody rains."

A few of my favourites included his belief that Europe should have a single electrical system, he mourns the loss of Concorde, criticises the idiocy of juries and, surprisingly, he barely mentions cars. I must not forget to mention that even Finland receives a brief mention in the chapter 'The unhappiest people on Earth? You'd never guess', in which he attempts to deduce which country: "You are apparently in the First World with your mobile phone and your pretty daughters but you spend all winter being frozen to death and all summer being eaten alive by mosquitoes the size of tractors."

Overall, his writing avoids the clichés and is entertaining as a holiday page-turner, the columns traverse the globe and you are left with the feeling that Clarkson knows his stuff, but you have to read the book just for the chapter about Nelson Mandela…that is controversial.
  
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